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Multiple melting stages and refertilization as indicators for ridge to subduction formation: The New Caledonia ophiolite


Ulrich, M and Picard, C and Guillot, S and Chauvel, C and Cluzel, D and Meffre, SJM, Multiple melting stages and refertilization as indicators for ridge to subduction formation: The New Caledonia ophiolite , Lithos: An International Journal of Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry, 115, (1-4) pp. 223-236. ISSN 0024-4937 (2010) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.lithos.2009.12.011


The origin of the New Caledonia ophiolite (South West Pacific), one of the largest in the world, is controversial. This nappe of ultramafic rocks (300 km long, 50 km wide and 2 km thick) is thrust upon a smaller nappe (Poya terrane) composed of basalts from mid-ocean ridges (MORB), back arc basins (BABB) and ocean islands (OIB). This nappe was tectonically accreted from the subducting plate prior and during the obduction of the ultramafic nappe. The bulk of the ophiolite is composed of highly depleted harzburgites (± dunites) with characteristic U-shaped bulk-rock rare-earth element (REE) patterns that are attributed to their formation in a forearc environment. In contrast, the origin of spoon-shaped REE patterns of lherzolites in the northernmost klippes was unclear. Our new major element and REE data on whole rocks, spinel and clinopyroxene establish the abyssal affinity of these lherzolites. Significant LREE enrichment in the lherzolites is best explained by partial melting in a spreading ridge, followed by near in-situ refertilization from deeper mantle melts. Using equilibrium melting equations, we show that melts extracted from these lherzolites are compositionally similar to the MORB of the Poya terrane. This is used to infer that the ultramafic nappe and the mafic Poya terrane represent oceanic lithosphere of a single marginal basin that formed during the late Cretaceous. In contrast, our spinel data highlights the strong forearc affinities of the most depleted harzburgites whose compositions are best modeled by hydrous melting of a source that had previously experienced depletion in a spreading ridge. The New Caledonian boninites probably formed during this second stage of partial melting. The two melting events in the New Caledonia ophiolite record the rapid transition from oceanic accretion to convergence in the South Loyalty Basin during the Late Paleocene, with initiation of a new subduction zone at or near the ridge axis. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Structural geology and tectonics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Meffre, SJM (Professor Sebastien Meffre)
ID Code:67956
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:106
Deposited By:Centre for Ore Deposit Research - CODES CoE
Deposited On:2011-03-08
Last Modified:2011-04-08

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